Dear reader,

A caveat.

Everything posted here is worth thinking about. On the other hand, the ideas and opinions put forth may not be right.

Curated and annotated by Timoni West.

August 4th, 2014

Speaking during an Eid el-Fitr meeting on July 28, [State Ministers of Turkey and Vice-Prime Minister Bülent] Arınç described his ideal of the chaste man or woman, saying they should both have a sense of shame and honor.

“Chastity is so important. It is not only a name. It is an ornament for both women and men. [She] will have chasteness. Man will have it, too. He will not be a womanizer. He will be bound to his wife. He will love his children. [The woman] will know what is haram and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness,” Arınç said, adding that people had abandoned their values today. People needs to discover the Quran once again, Arınç said, adding that there had been a regression on moral grounds.

“Where are our girls, who slightly blush, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their face, becoming the symbol of chastity?” he said.

Women should not laugh in public, Turkish deputy PM says (From the Hurriyet Daily News)

While I appreciate that Arinc mentioned men must be chaste, too—that’s unusual, so credit where credit’s due—I am struck particularly by his description of how a ‘chaste girl’ should react to being looked at: blush slightly, lower head, turns eyes away.

When humans look at each other, one would, generally, only respond with blushes and downward glances if: (1) they were attracted to the other person; or (2) they were embarrassed by how the other person viewed them. To have someone blush and avoid your eye is generally indicative they find you interesting, intimidating, or attractive—or all three.

That Arnic wants all girls to behave in this way, when meeting him, tells you much about him. That he equates such behavior with morality tells you much about how his religious framework views women.

July 29th, 2014
“When people perceive someone as low in competence and easily misled, they assume the person will not scrutinize lies, and that you can get away with [lying],” says Kray. Participants were asked to report how likely they thought other people would be to take advantage of a male or female buyer, and the participants correctly reported that people would lower their ethical standards when dealing with women. “People are aware of stereotypes, and use them to their advantage when they’re motivated to do so,” Kray says.

Gender in negotiation study: Women fare worse in negotiations because people lie to them more.

I posted a brief comment on Twitter as well but will expound here: when it comes to negotiations, I find it hard to consider that I might be hearing outright lies. If a client or potential employee tells me they don’t have the budget for me, I think they are telling me the truth. That this is a bid for me to negotiate literally never crosses my mind.

I’ve rarely have to negotiate—but this could mean I likely need to raise my rates. I prefer to think it means I work with straight shooters.

Idiocracy continues the great American tradition of producing media that bemoans the terrible state of America’s collective intelligence. But as a piece of historical futurism (yes, it really has been nearly a decade since this movie was produced) it has a worrisome message. We’re frustrated by the world, believing that encouraging smarter people to breed would somehow fix our problems. But it simply isn’t so. It’s a distraction from the institutional problems of our society. The problem isn’t that stupid people (again, read: poor) are having too many children. The problem is that we aren’t living up to the ideals and promises we’ve given to each generation of Americans that have come before us. A livable wage, paid maternity leave, proper funding of scientific research — these are the things a functional, civilized society are built upon; the ways that we can improve our world. We don’t build a better society by getting more smart people to fuck each other.

Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie And You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It

I have a cousin who is about a year older, and equally, if not more, intelligent than I am. She’s also much more cutthroat and competitive; she would thrive in fields I am afraid to touch, like finance or politics.

But as luck would have it, I grew up in a loving, stable family and she did not. I grew up knowing I would go to college; she grew up hoping for an accidental pregnancy so she could create a stable family life of her own that she’d never known.

Now I live in Brooklyn, have a nice job, and am a reasonably productive member of society—no kids, high income, travel a lot. My cousin, on the other hand, has seven children, has been on welfare since she was nineteen, and lives in an impoverished Midwestern town. Our lives could easily be reversed. It was luck, and I am reminded of how lucky I am whenever I see her.

I think we conflate identity with capability on a regular basis. It’s practical, on some level, because if a person thinks of themselves as dumb, inadequate, or destined for a shitty life, it’s a hell of a time trying to convince them otherwise. It’s maddening, but it really is much easier to work with incapable people who are eager and willing to go the extra mile than an intelligent, stubborn person who has convinced themselves they aren’t capable.

A lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of your lived experiences on Earth actually have nothing to do with you, but with the narrative that your body presents — at least that’s what I’ve deduced. The narrative can change, sure, but if it does, it’s got nothing to do with what you’ve done to subvert it, and everything to do with other people doing a better job of restraining their inner asshole.

As the genius comedian Chris Rock said of Pres. Barack Obama’s election in 2008: “You could say that black people made progress, but to say black people have made progress would mean that black people deserved to be segregated,” he said. “The reality is that white people have gotten less crazy.”

This brings me to the recent Harvard Business Review article by a Harvard professor that aggregated a bunch of studies which all said that the social and inter-office political implications for women who “lean in,” AKA aggressively negotiate for pay or other things at work, are much more catastrophic than they are for men.

July 28th, 2014
Parfit believes that there are true answers to moral questions, just as there are to mathematical ones. Humans can perceive these truths, through a combination of intuition and critical reasoning, but they remain true whether humans perceive them or not.
For example, in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, the main character walks down a street passing by a number of shops whose names were specifically chosen and window displays specifically arranged by the director to convey additional meaning to the scene and to the film. At 720p or at a bitrate under 8Mbps, those details become indistinct and illegible. It becomes impossible to know that Kubrick was trying to tell you anything with those storefronts, let alone discern what he was trying to say.
July 27th, 2014

This female version of Gary Oldman’s Dracula is knocking me out. Photo via audrinapatridge.

Sick tattoo by MXM at sangbleu in London. In light of no other options I created a pinterest board for tattoos like this—heavy linework, #blackworkers stuff.


by MXM.

Big Data is like Big Brother, only without the judgment.
July 26th, 2014

The Hunger Games has this same feminist problem. Other than the initial volunteering to replace her younger sister, Katniss never makes any decisions of her own, never acts with consequence— but her life is constructed to appear that she makes important decisions. She has free will, of course, like any five year old with terrible parents, but at every turn is prevented from acting on the world. She is protected by men— enemies and allies alike; directed by others, blessed with lucky accidents and when things get impossible there are packages from the sky. In philosophical terms, she is continuously robbed of agency. She is deus ex machinaed all the way to the end.

…In the actual Games, Katniss is continuously saved by men— Haymitch, Peeta, Peeta again, Thresh— but you don’t notice that she saves no one, including herself, you think she saves herself all the time. You think this because of the first half of the movie told you she’s a badass, so you don’t realize that during the second half she shows less agency than Princess Jasmine.

What’s Wrong With The Hunger Games Is What No One Noticed and The Hunger Games Is A Sexist Fairy Tale. Sorry, the Last Psychiatrist.

I repeated these general sentiments a lot when Twilight was ending and The Hunger Games was revving up, because there were a lot of comparisons, all of which ended badly for Bella. Admittedly, the Twilight movies make Bella much weaker, which is unfortunate; in the books, she ends up becoming the most powerful vampire in the world. She gets everything that Katniss doesn’t: her Gale (and her Peeta), her Pris, her district, all safe and sound. Because when the revolution comes, Bella is so powerful she doesn’t even need to fight.

Maddening, then, Katniss is lauded as a strong female character. She scans as badass on paper, and in the cinema, but on reflection, she’s simply the pawn of a much larger system—and so dumb, so untrustworthy nobody can tell her anything. Not Peeta, not Hamish, not even Cinna or Effie.

Considering what Katniss does after the revolution, it was likely a smart move on the part of the rebels. Don’t forget that in the third book, after the Capitol falls, when Katniss is accorded some figurehead power, she votes to keeps the games going.

It is the most fundamental insight of human relationships that when you see the other person as a factor in your own happiness, the problem is not the person, the problem is you.
The usual anxiety about Facebook’s future is that teenagers aren’t interested in it, but the more relevant demo here is adult men, especially the ones in suits.  Facebook runs 60/40 women to men.  In the language of self-aggrandizing social media, that’s a tipping point.  5% more estrogen and Facebook will be perceived as a women’s site and no guy will want any part of it except for guys you will want no part of.

The Last Psychiatrist: Who Can Know How Much Randi Zuckerberg Is Worth?

The mellifluous Chris Ballas expounds on this point more after this quote, but one thing I love about him—he’s extremely practical; realties are regarded as such regardless of intent.